In this part of the French News Online "Lifestyle" Section,
professional gardener Mike Alexander, takes us, gently, through
those tasks you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Forsythia - Prune as soon as they finish flowering
Predatory beetles, bugs and insects are on the march in April.
For now is the time you can really start to see that seasonal
change and the hardships of winter are beginning to be forgotten.
It is this month that I really relish doing the job that I do.
As winter bursts into spring and the sun starts to shine, I wouldn't
swap with a lawyer, doctor or football professional. Of course
with the ball handling skills of a worm and an IQ only slightly
higher, these are options that might not have easily tumbled my
way... but all the same, I am lucky enough to love my job.
I am not the only one to enjoy April's arrival. Many of the predatory
beetles, bugs and insects will also start to make an appearance
now and make determined efforts to eat and chew their way through
all your hard work. The lily beetle is a handsome red beetle just
under a centimetre in length who feeds on lilies and members of
the fritillaria family.
Red Lily Beetle
If you keep a close eye on your plants you can pick these predators
off by hand and then destroy them but they have a neat little
trick which is highly effective. On sensing any unusual vibration
of the leaves they play dead and drop into the underlying foliage
where they miraculously vanish. I have, however, devised a neat
little trick of my own, by taking a paper plate and cutting out
a slice in the shape of a triangle... like a slice of cake. I
then slip this around the base of the plant, so that when the
supposedly dead beetles drop off, they lie exposed against a lovely
Lily Beetle Plate Trap
If you are lucky, you may catch several beetles in one plate
attack. My record is four, but remember, I am a highly trained
professional, with years of paper plate combat experience under
Now here is the crucial bit. Once you have captured your pretty
little enemy, he must be destroyed. Whether you drown him, squash
him or blast him with your neighbours shotgun, isn't important.
What matters is that he ends up dead. Don't go getting all namby
pamby on me and releasing him down the road, while tearfully humming
the theme tune from "Born Free". These beetles can fly
and if you do this, there is a real chance they will make it home
before you do... or invade the garden of you poor neighbour.
You need to treat for slugs and snails now, as they will be racing
towards your hostas and other leafy plants as fast as their slimy
little bodies will carry them. The famously useful French liquid
soap, savon noir, is great against aphids if used on a regular
It is time to spray roses for black spot. This disease needs to
be treated preventatively, as it is too late once the symptoms
manifest. Spray twice this month with a fungicide. Normally I
don't spray again after that.
Finally, don't forget to prune spring flowering shrubs such as
Chaenomeles Japonica (flowering quince) and Forsythia as soon
as they finish flowering.